AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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THE HOUSE NEVER LOSES: HOW MICROTRANSACTIONS EXPLOIT VIDEO GAME PLAYERS

What follows is a guest post by Eliya Cohen, PhD candidate in philosophy at Princeton University.

Imagine an industry that makes use of a business model much like a casino’s, except – in the most literal sense of the phrase – the house never loses. Not only would the house win in the long term, but every iteration of every game would be one where the house never coughs up a cent. And curiously, it would be precisely because the house never has to pay out, because patrons can never win, but only lose something of value, that the model would be largely unregulated.

Welcome to the video game industry, where the product is so enchanting that we almost forget that producers exploit us while we play.

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WHY VIDEO GAME VIOLENCE ISN’T INNOCENT

What follows is a guest post by Christopher Bartel, Professor of Philosophy at Appalachian State University

Is it ever morally wrong to commit violent or immoral acts in a video game? Video games are just images, right? No matter what I do in a video game, I am just interacting with images, and harming an image doesn’t cause any real-world harm. So, all of my actions in games must be morally neutral. This is a perfectly reasonable (and common) line of thought. But I think it’s wrong. Here’s why.

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GAME EXPERTS RANK THEIR TOP 5 GAMES OF THE DECADE

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God of War (2018)

This year marks the end of the second decade of the 2000s. In honor of this, we thought we’d take a look back at our decade with an end-of-year series.

The internet loves lists, especially year-end ones, and we’ll feed that love a little bit this December. We’ll be hosting seven lists of expert Decade-Best picks. We’ve done movies, and you can look forward to writing, television, music, traditional visual arts, and one surprise list at the end. Each will include philosophers working in these and related areas, but also other academics whose work concerns these topics and people working in the relevant media. But up today: games!

We asked our experts to rank their top five games of all kinds, so let’s see what the 2010s gave us to play with.


Our contributors are:

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IS COMMANDER SHEPARD FEMALE? DETERMINING CANON IN VIDEO GAMES

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variations on Commander Shepard from Mass Effect 3

What follows is a post in our JAAC x AFB collaborative series, where we highlight articles from the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. This post features Marissa D. Willis’ recent paper, “Choose Your Own Adventure: Examining the Fictional Content of Video Games as Interactive Fictions“.

“Video games don’t tell stories,” he told me. “They’re just games.”

So said a friend of mine when I told him I was writing about video games as works of fiction. And despite his mansplaining my own topic to me, my friend was giving voice to the very problem which I hope to address. Despite the fact that more people are playing video games these days than ever before, and game makers continue to create more inventive and engaging narrative works every day, my friend is not alone in his opinion. Continue reading


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Why Video Games in Art Museums Still Aren’t Art

What follows is a guest post by Brock Rough. Brock is a graduate of Northern Illinois University (2010, MA in Philosophy), and currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park, Department of Philosophy. His research focuses on the art status and ontology of videogames, their role as a test case for theories of art, and the ontology and intersection of games and art. Before pursuing philosophy, Brock spent several years working as a portrait painter.

Videogames are a massive cultural phenomenon. They have come far from the early days of Pong, Pac-Man, and Super Mario Bros. to become productions with Hollywood blockbuster-sized budgets and sales records, like the Call of Duty, Madden NFL, and Grand Theft Auto series’. With such popularity, it was inevitable that some would begin to question the art status of, at least some, videogames. And for some, the issue has been put to rest by the recent inclusion of videogames in some world-class art institutions, including the travelling exhibition put together by the Smithsonian and the permanent collection started by MoMa.

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